My wife and I love Halloween. It is, by far, our favourite day of the year. Tombstones in the yard, spiderwebs across the windows, jack-o-lanterns glowing, horror movies running non-stop, and kids in costumes coming to the door… We love it all. Sadly, our eldest is terrified of anything even mildly spooky, but he’s getting better with Halloween Decorations. This year would have been the 1st year our youngest would have comprehended what was happening.

I say would have because this year is going to be very different. Many parts of the province have cancelled trick or treating this year. Although we could go out this year, we won’t be. Additionally, although we could give out candy this year, we’ll be giving that a pass as well.

What changed?

The same thing that killed my position and helped convince me to become Dad at Home: COVID-19. With the virus strongly hitting its second wave just as Halloween beckons on the horizon, we just can’t rationalize the extra danger away this year.

My wife is a Medical Laboratory Technologist. She’s one of the people that runs & interpret the tests on pretty much everything that comes out of or off of your body and lets the doctors know what’s wrong with a person. This is not to be confused with medical laboratory technicians: the people that load the machines and are not allowed to interpret anything.

If my eldest were to catch COVID-19 due to trick or treating, my youngest, my wife, and I would all be at risk. If, following the chain, my wife were to contract it from my son, who contracted it from trick or treating, her whole lab would be at risk. A positive result would shut down Northeastern Ontario’s lab. There are couriers at her work, which come into contact with the Technologists, Technicians, Phlebotomists, and front-end people on a daily basis. If one of those couriers (most of which are elderly) contracted the virus, they could spread it to hospital & lab staff all across the province.

With the testing backlog now stretching into 10+ days in some areas, I can only imagine how horrible it would be if every lab across the province were forced to shut down for 14+ days due to a COVID-19 case transmitting thanks to trick or treating. We won’t be the cause of that (and hopefully other people in labs across the province have the same courtesy).

Raising Halloween from the Dead

Despite the filming of the new Resident Evil movie on the corner, by looking at our block, you would think Halloween was dead. There are no decorations visible from the road. No signs of people stocking up on candy. And not a single sign advertising the usual Halloween parties at bars and coffee shops.

However, if you know where to look, you can see that people are spirit haunting. Looking at side windows, those in driveways or between houses, and you can see the trappings of Halloween inside. People are decorating their livingrooms and kitchens, hallways and bedrooms, and I’m sure even their bathrooms are getting into the spirit.

This year will be all about Halloween parties. Whether it’s a small family horrorfest, or a handful of close friends that are in the same bubble, there’s still plenty of fun to be had.

Five ideas for Halloween 2020

1. Virus-themed Horror Movies/Shows (or virus-avoiding)

With COVID-19 still running rampant, virus-themed horror movies are a perfect fit. Because of the virus currently on the loose, anxiety over virus-horror is ramped right up. This makes the movies even more poignant, and adds to the thrill. Not appropriate for little ones, but a lot of fun for everyone else. Maybe keep this for after they’ve turned in.

Alternatively, some people are very sick of hearing about the virus and want anything else. You’ve a lot to choose from, and there are plenty of kid-friendly horror movies that can make the cut. Avoid zombie & werewolf movies, as they tend attribute them to a virus of some sort (ie 28 Days Later). Ghost, vampire (surprisingly rarely attributed to a virus), and mummy movies work very well.

My kids are really getting into a lot of the classic Donald Duck & Mickey Mouse horror shows right now, but pretty much every kids show has a Halloween episode that works well.

2. Indoor Scavenger Hunt

Depending on the age, you create lists of 5-30 pieces of horror decor around the house. List them & give each child a sheet with the list. Have a “big prize” for the 1st to find them all, and everyone gets their own bag’o’candy to enjoy once it’s all done.

3. Piñata!

Who doesn’t love a Piñata? There’s a tonne of great Halloween Piñata available to be stuffed, and with Amazon you can get it all delivered with lots of time to stuff it before the big day. You can even get a COVID-19 Piñata, if that’s something you’re interested in.

Ghosts, mummies, vampires, zombies, skeletons, bats, spiders, haunted houses… It’s all available. You just need to narrow down your search and you can find what you need. Best of all, if your little ones aren’t as good with the creepy stuff, you can fluff it up with unicorns and the like.

4. Catch the Ghost.

This requires a bit more work.

What you’ll need:

  • Paper, tissue, or Styrofoam ghosts (the kids can even help you decorate them)
  • An indoor fan, preferably a big round one, but a cylinder fans works too
  • Butterfly nets

If you haven’t guessed yet, you point the fan toward the ceiling, throw the ghosts on, and watch them fly. The kids use the net to catch them. It’s a simple game, but a tonne of fun. Again, you can have bonus prizes for catching the King Ghost (or whatever).

5. Scary Stories.

Exactly as it sounds. With the light out, setup a pumpkin-fire in the middle of your livingroom and swap stories meant to frighten and unnerve with your flashlight illuminating your (hopefully very animated) face. Depending on how old your kids are, they may even get into making up stories too.

This is the point where you get to have some real fun. Crack out the peeled grapes and cold spaghetti. Have someone listening in from the basement or attic add some tapping sounds and ghoulish noises. Rig up something to drip on their faces. Have someone jump out from behind the couch in the middle of it.

Depending on how far you go, the kids will get terrified. So be sure to keep in check and adjust the extras to match your kid’s sensibilities.

Conclusion

Just because COVID is running wild in our communities, doesn’t mean Halloween is ready to be buried and forgotten. There’s a lot you can do to keep the fun & spirit of the holiday alive in your home. We’ll definitely be having a lot of fun here, and I would love to hear what you’ll be doing this year.

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